Economic Stimulus Package Could Impinge on Americans’ Health Privacy

“Before increasing federal spending on health IT, Congress should first fix the already-outdated 1996 HIPAA privacy rule to ensure individuals have control over their personal health information,” says Sue A. Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom (IHF). “Right now, the HIPAA privacy rule has too many loopholes to ensure true patient privacy,” Blevins stresses.

IHF released the following analyses regarding proposed federal spending on health IT and its impact on health privacy:

What does Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package have to do with your health privacy? A lot! If Obama creates electronic medical records for most Americans (as he’s proposing) without first fixing the federal health privacy rule (to ensure patient consent), everyone would end up losing control over his or her personal health information. That’s because the rule gives many entities the legal authority to share information without patients’ consent for purposes related to healthcare treatment, payment, and overseeing the healthcare system. (See “What Every American Needs to Know about the HIPAA Medical Privacy Rule”:www.forhealthfreedom.org/Publications/Privacy/PrivacyUpdatedNov2008.html.)

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